Trevor, not an orphan, has finally gotten a scholarship into the college that tops the leaderboard for non-magic schools, the college attached to the prestigious University of Earth Magic! What's this? He still has to do magic?
"Trevor McGuire." The voice stated from an unseen mouth. The figure in front of him stood, his dark robes quietly falling into place about him. "We would like to begin your test now. Do you have any objections?" the voice boomed, each echo from the stone gym causing a cacophony, each echo mirrored by a wince from the boy.
"No... No, Sir."
"Good." The figure pressed its hands together. "Your first task," it said, its robes moving to accomodate a raised knee, "is to break this wall." Trevor saw the bare foot hit the ground and just in front of him a square wall, his height, erupted without sound. "You have exactly five minutes. Your time starts now."
Trevor mumbled curses in his mind - he didn't dare let the figures hear him. He had not been expecting a test of this sort - the forms'd said that although attached to a magic university, it was non-magic, damnit! - and muttered that he'd pass this test, then complain. Running a finger along the wall, he felt that it was smooth to the touch unlike the stone floor beneath him. They were good, he'd admit that. Just in case, he tried a kick - but the wall did not yield. He rubbed his leg and took a step back.
Two other figures, also hooded, stood by the first one with clipboards. Above them the clock - the only concession to tech in this stone-walled, stone-floored, probably stone-ceiling'd room read that he had three minutes left. Concentrate. Trevor took a deep breath, taking his time as he tried to remember what little magic he knew. Firstly, the tinny voice of memory chimed, feel the energy. He closed his eyes and tried to open his mind - he imagined that the air was filled with a mist, fine, yellow, sweet and slightly cinnamon scented. Good. Next, take it into your body - this bit he struggled with. Was he meant to imagine his pores were opening to let it in, or what? He settled on imagining it seeping through the skin, but it felt wrong. Finally, channel - stomp, and let it emerge somewhere else. He stomped, wincing as his knee jarred, willing it to erupt too and break the wall. He heard a thud and cautiously opened his eyes. A spur had hit the wall. A week ago, he'd've been more than pleased with just this, but with only a minute on the clock, the three cloaked figures scrawling dismissively and not a scratch on the wall, it wasn't enough. He gathered energy, and stomped - 40 seconds left - and stomped - 20 seconds left, not enough - and he stomped, turning, grinding his leg into the ground, willing the wall to break - the projection twisted, drilling into the wall, glorious fractures spreading across its face - but it wasn't enough. Zero seconds.
"And stop. Thank you, you will receive your results shortly. Please leave through the back exit."